January 23, 2015
This is the eighth of a planned twelve part series on the twelve Points for Christian Reform by John Spong.
- These “Twelve Points for Reform” come from John Spong’s book A New Christianity for a New World:
- The rebuttal of his points comes from Stephanie D. Monk – An Examination of the Theology of Bishop John Shelby Spong.
- I am responding to the twelve points for reform proposed by Mr. Spong, and their rebuttal by Ms. Monk.
capable of being translated into the concepts of a postCopernican space age.
Monk – Thesis 8: No Ascension
The Ascension is a corollary of the resurrection, and if Jesus was not bodily resurrected, then of course he did not ascend into heaven. Also, Spong argues that our present scientific understanding precludes any idea of a physical ascension.
Sly – Maybe…
I watched my saintly mother dance across death’s threshold. I watched my hero father purge his body, clear his mind, and charge across death’s threshold into his next adventure. When I dismiss the promises of heaven and the threats of burning hell in the Bible, I do not intend to imply that I know what lies beyond the threshold of death. What I am saying is – they don’t either. And when I say that I will not spend my time on this field of play trying to get to their promised heaven, or avoid their threatened hell, I do not mean to imply that I am in any hurry for the game to end. The Hero Story ends happily ever after, and that sounds pretty good to me.
I realize I am not dealing with the question of the physical ascension of Jesus into heaven. I agree with Ms. Monk. If you are not buying the version of the Jesus story where Jesus is the son of God, then there is really no point in debating the physical ascension into “heaven”. Instead, I would like to address here the concept of what, if anything, lies beyond the death of the body. But first I would like to point out that given the choice, and with no evidence of an afterlife to go on, I would prefer that this body remain alive and healthy as long as possible, and this appears to be the mission of Hero Medicine. Go, Heroes, go!
In High Ground and The Uncertainty Principle, I discuss how I discovered Taoism, and the Taoism definition of Spirit as a Force. Forces are invisible, but their nature is revealed by the motion they create. I believe that Spiritual Force can be “exercised”, and that this exercise will make it stronger, and that this is worth doing. Some schools of Taoism seem to suggest that if this force is strong enough, it can survive the death of the body. I don’t know about that, or how anybody alive could know about that, but strengthening your Spiritual Force would seem to be worth the effort in any case. I do not discount the possibility that the Hero Jesus had a Spiritual Force off of the Richter Scale, and that by my definition of the “Natural God”, Jesus was a “threshold” that may have been capable of expressing “miracles.”
In my novel Hero Nation there is a point where a teacher of alchemy is introducing his students to the practice of Qigong. I used the metaphor of the “first guitar” and how the “first player” could never have imagined what Eric Clapton would someday be able to do with it. My understanding of Qigong is that of a beginning student. Of its limits, I can not imagine. But for those of you who seek a natural way toward immortality, this may be an opening. Is this a selfish pursuit? I guess it could be. But it could also be a Hero role, exploring human potential with the intention to share what you learn.
Someday I may jump onto my Ox and ride off into the mountains in the Taoist tradition. But I also understand the power of team-work in any research. I know that some of my audience is here for the alchemy I hint at in High Ground. I have yet to complete my current role, the opening The Hero Way. If I ever get beyond that, I would like to return to my research into human potential suggested by Qigong. If I complete this project, it may be my next project.
Next up – Point #9: Inerrancy